Walter Bidlake has been living with a married woman named Marjorie Carling for a year and a half, and he is growing tired of her. He feels tied to her by a moral obligation but oppressed by her attempts to possess him; she has rejected his proposal that they live together as close friends but leading independent lives. In any case, it is too late for that now, because Marjorie is pregnant. Her jealousy toward his latest infatuation, Lucy Tantamount, pricks Walter’s conscience, and he is angry with himself for making Marjorie unhappy by going to a party at Tantamount House without her.
Elinor and Philip Quarles travel abroad, leaving little Philip behind under the care of a governess and his grandmother, Mrs. Bidlake. Philip is a novelist, and his life consists of jotting down in his notebook incidents and thoughts that might make material for his next novel. His mind is turned inward, introspective, and his self-centered interests give him little time for emotional experience. Elinor wishes that he would love her as much as she loves him, but she resigns herself to the unhappy dilemma of being loved as much as Philip could possibly love any woman.
Denis Burlap, editor of The Literary World, flatters himself with the just conceit that although his magazine is not a financial success, it at least contributes to the intellectual life of his time. Walter, one of his chief contributors, asks for more pay; Burlap hedges until Walter feels ashamed of his demands. Burlap is attracted to Beatrice Gilray, a pathetic figure who has feared the very touch of a man ever since she had been attacked by her uncle while riding in a taxicab. Burlap hopes eventually to seduce Beatrice. Meanwhile, they are living together. Also part of this social set is Spandrell, an indolent son of a doting mother who supports him, and Everard Webley, a friend of Elinor and the leader of a conservative militaristic group called the British Freemen.
Philip’s father, Sidney Quarles, pretends that he is writing a long history, but he has not progressed much beyond the purchase of office equipment. His wife, Rachel, assumes the burden of managing their affairs and patiently endures Sidney’s whims and mild flirtations. Now it is apparently someone in London, for Sidney makes frequent trips to the British Museum to gather material for his...
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Baker, Robert. The Dark Historic Page: Social Satire and Historicism in the Novels of Aldous Huxley, 1921-1939. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982. Presents four of the novel’s main contrapuntal plot lines, which are centered around relationships with parents, lovers, death, and God. Argues that Spandrell is central to each of these plot lines.
Bedford, Sybille. Aldous Huxley: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973. Detailed biography based primarily on oral sources that traces Huxley’s intellectual and moral development from early childhood on. Presents a fascinating insight into the Huxley family. Discusses the novel’s theme, characterization, and critical reaction.
Bowering, Peter. Aldous Huxley: A Study of the Major Novels. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969. Presents Huxley as a novelist of ideas who uses minimal plot and character development so as to focus on theme and satire. Discusses Huxley’s relationship with D. H. Lawrence and its influence on the themes and ideas in the novel.
Meckier, Jerome. Aldous Huxley: Satire and Structure. London: Chatto & Windus, 1969. An excellent introductory source that isolates major themes of Point Counter Point and provides the clearest overview of its structure. Includes a detailed analysis of Rampion’s central role and of his ruthless assessments of other characters, as well as the use of models for many characters.
Murray, Nicholas. Aldous Huxley: A Biography. New York: St. Martin’s, 2003. Murray’s 500-plus page biography and intellectual history is a wide-ranging survey of Huxley’s writing and his social, personal, and political life. The book stretches from Huxley’s early satirical writing to his peace activism, from his close relations and friendships with Hollywood filmmakers and other intellectuals, to his fascination with spirituality and mysticism. Illustrations, bibliography, and index.
Nance, Guinevera A. Aldous Huxley. New York: Continuum, 1988. A clear introductory work that discusses Huxley’s intellectual development and his detached, reflective presentation of a society without balance. Also analyzes the characters, parallel story lines, and recurring themes of Point Counter Point.